Equal Participation and Representation
Project: “Amai Tengani Mbali Mu Demokalase” – Equal participation and representation of women in decision-making
Location: Zambia and Malawi
Duration: 1 July 2011 – 30 June 2013
Partner: National Women’s Lobby and Rights Group, Malawi (NAWOLG) and Zambia National Women’s Lobby (ZNWL)
In both Malawi and Zambia, women’s participation in the political sphere is very low. Women are under represented at most levels of government in both countries. Potential female candidates are hampered by several factors including lack of economic means to fund and support their election bids, gender biased societal views on the role of women and patriarchal political parties which fail to provide women an opportunity to be nominated as potential candidates in any elections. Additionally, aspiring women politicians are often lacking support in a number of areas, including leadership development, public policy, public speaking and media relations to prepare them for a political life.
What Womankind is doing
Womankind took over the management of this project in 2011 from One World Action which underwent a managed closure. With support from Comic Relief, Womankind is now working with the NAWOLG and ZNWL to:
- contribute in a significant and substantial way to the increased participation of women in local and national level decision-making and to the achievement of the African Union target of 50% representation of women in decision-making in Zambia and Malawi
- build poor and marginalised women’s confidence and ability to speak out, articulate their needs in public and become leaders on decisions that affect their lives in community, district and national fora
- greater women’s voice before, during and after local and national elections and increased representation and accountability of those elected in order obtain better services such as health, water and education for poor and marginalised women
What we have achieved so far
- Increase in women’s economic independence and agency through the education and support offered by the Women’s Radio Listeners Clubs’ initiatives. The 1,343 registered club members have been able to exchange skills that have enabled financial resourcefulness and income generating activities that are owned and run by women
- Women gained confidence and enhanced political skills so that they are better able to participate in decision making: 37 women were identified at the grassroots levels and trained in readiness to stand as councillors in the 2010 Local Government Elections (which have still not taken place). 32 of the women had no experience of speaking publicly before this training and now have the confidence to participate more fully in their communities
- 29 community radio programmes were produced and aired across the country, providing women aspiring candidates an opportunity to practice their media skills and present their “manifestos” to potential voters. By providing airspace for the women the project enabled them not only to enhance their radio skills and their profile but also to educate the general public about women’s voting rights and their right to participate in decision making
- As part of an effort to foster women leaders of the future, ZNWL has seen significant uptake and enthusiasm for its Girls Leadership clubs. This year the project trained 66 school teachers as leadership trainers from 4 of Zambia’s more remote and disadvantaged provinces. ZNWL established clubs in 16 schools in North Western and Western provinces and offered training for 684 existing members. The clubs are proving to be extremely popular and ZNWL is experiencing a huge demand from schools to open more clubs.